Plans for another 65 new homes in Pagham have been given the go-ahead but only by the narrowest of margins.
Later in the meeting a vote on a separate application by Domusea for 65 homes at Church Barton Farm was tied seven to seven, with chairman Ricky Bower using his casting vote in favour of the development.
A total of 233 letters of objection from residents were received against the plans.
Nigel Munday, who runs Pagham Ponies, described how the animal sanctuary would be losing its home of 12 years, adding: “Building on this land would be sacrilege.”
Paul White, representing the developer, described how the scheme was planned in conjunction with the development of 400 homes approved south of Summer Lane.
He said: “The two sites effectively read as one. It’s important to have a comprehensive and well-planned development.”
But Dawn Hall (Con, Pagham) said: “This is getting closer to the nature reserve. There’s so many things wrong with it. The wildlife we are losing, how much do we need to sacrifice?”
Officers explained that the statutory bodies with responsibility for highways and ecology had not objected to the application.
An exasperated Philippa Bower (Con, Rustington West) suggested as a council they would get into ‘terrible trouble’ if they kept trying to refuse everything as applications were going to take up land and generate extra traffic.
She said: “By law we have to find housing for people, I just do not get ho we can keep saying no to things that are in the local plan.”
Originally 89 new homes were planned on the parcel of land but this number has now been reduced to 65.
Councillors questioned if access from Pagham Road could be achieved through other neighbouring developments but a motion to defer the application was defeated by six votes to four.
The application was then approved.